By Therese Apel
JACKSON, Miss., Jan 31 (Reuters) - A Canadian National Railway Co train carrying fuel oil and other hazardous materials derailed and was leaking in southeast Mississippi on Friday, forcing the evacuation of nearby residents, officials said.
No one was injured in the incident which involved the derailment of 21 railcars, eight of which have spilled their contents, a Canadian National Railway spokesman said.
Several of the cars were carrying hazardous materials including fertilizer and methanol, but there was no fire, he said.
The accident, the latest in a string of North American train derailments over the past year, occurred in the city limits of New Augusta in Perry County, near a mobile home park, according to the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency.
Emergency services were on the scene and responding to the accident, local officials said.
Local sheriff Jimmy Dale Smith said that fewer than 20 people have had to be evacuated at last count.
"They've got these spills pretty much contained and secured, and we're working on starting the cleanup process at this point," Smith said from the scene. "Hopefully we can get everything cleaned up this afternoon and get people in their homes tonight."
Friday's accident follows a spate of explosive derailments of trains carrying crude oil over the past year that has raised questions about safety, especially of some older tank cars prone to puncture.
Federal regulators have been studying railcar design and other issues after the accidents, including one last month when a 106-car BNSF Railway Co train carrying crude east crashed into a derailed westbound BNSF grain train near Casselton, North Dakota.
Last July, a runaway oil train derailed and exploded in the center of the Quebec town of Lac-Megantic, killing 47 people.